Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) are supporting the National Fire Chief’s Council’s (NFCC) Be Water Aware campaign. The week long campaign runs from 29 April – 5 May and is a national campaign which aims to highlight the risk of accidental drowning.
In August 2018 and more recently in April 2019, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service extended the roll out of some water safety boards at key water hot spot sites where open water fatalities have occurred in the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service response area. Two water safety boards were first launched at Cuerden Valley Park which were funded by the families of two youths who had lost their lives at sites nearby. The water board initiative was put forward by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and LFRS were early adopters of the initiative with the hope that they hope would eventually be rolled out nationally both by Fire and Rescue Services but also from other landowners and private companies.
One such landowner, United Utilities, saw the work done by LFRS last year and made it one of their priorities for 2019. Following months of planning and research Thursday 4 April saw United Utilities along with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service mark the start of a scheme to help prevent reservoir drownings. Greenbooth Reservoir near Rochdale, is the site where Paul Lawson tragically lost his life in June 2017. Paul’s family unveiled a new throwline which was installed in his memory. Throwlines are being installed at 20 locations around eight reservoirs across Greater Manchester and Lancashire, each dedicated to the memory of someone who lost their life. Installing water safety boards at these locations does not condone swimming but recognises that water safety messages do not always reach absolutely everyone who might not be aware of the dangers. The water safety boards then act as a further tool to prevent fatality numbers.
The boards hold key life-saving advice on them as well as accurate location details in the event that the emergency services need to be contacted. The boards contain a ‘locked’ canister, which is accessed by a code given to the caller by fire control room operators, containing a whistle and throw line which gives people a means of assisting someone in trouble without risking entering the water themselves. The boards are bespoke to their location and contain a unique location code so that emergency services can locate the incident as quickly as possible. The above video shows these water safety boards and how best to throw a throwline.